George Rose
George Walter Rose

(1920-02-19)19 February 1920
Died5 May 1988(1988-05-05) (aged 68)
Sosúa, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic
Alma materRoyal Central School of Speech and Drama
Occupation(s)Actor, singer
Years active1935–1988
Children1 (adopted)

George Walter Rose (19 February 1920 – 5 May 1988) was an English actor and singer in theatre and film. He won the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for roles in My Fair Lady and The Mystery of Edwin Drood.

Early life

Born in Bicester, Oxfordshire, the son of a butcher, Rose studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama.[1] After graduation, he was briefly a farmer and secretary. After wartime service and studies at Oxford, he made his Old Vic stage debut in 1946.[2]


Rose spent four years with the Old Vic company and made his Broadway debut in a 1946 production of Henry IV, Part I and continued to play in New York City and London's West End for the remainder of the decade. He spent most of the 1950s appearing in broad comedy roles in the UK, later joining the Royal Shakespeare Company.[2] He returned to Broadway to portray Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing in 1959. Two years later, he co-starred to much acclaim in Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons, first in London and then in New York. This included Variety naming him best supporting actor for his portrayal of the Common Man.[3] From then on he appeared primarily in American plays and films.

Rose made his screen debut in Midnight Frolics in 1949 and went on to make more than 30 films. Notable film credits include The Pickwick Papers (1952), Track the Man Down (1955), A Night to Remember (1958), The Flesh and the Fiends (1959), Hawaii (1966), and A New Leaf (1971). Rose starred in the 1975 television series Beacon Hill, an Americanised version of Upstairs, Downstairs. Other television credits include Naked City, Trials of O'Brien, the mini-series Holocaust (1978), and several appearances on the Hallmark Hall of Fame.

On Broadway, among other roles, he played the First Gravedigger in John Gielgud's 1964 production of Hamlet starring Richard Burton, a suspicious storekeeper in William Hanley's Slow Dance on the Killing Ground (1964), a bitter soldier in Peter Shaffer's Royal Hunt of the Sun (1965), and the detective in Joe Orton's Loot (1968).[3] His first Tony Award nomination was for his portrayal of Louis Greff, Coco Chanel's friend, in the musical Coco in 1969. In the 1974 comedy My Fat Friend, opposite Lynn Redgrave, he won a Drama Desk Award and received another Tony nomination.[3] In 1976, he finally won a Tony as Alfred P. Doolittle in the 20th anniversary Broadway revival of My Fair Lady. He received further acclaim in the role of General Burgoyne in The Devil's Disciple,[4] as Mr. Darling and Captain Hook in Peter Pan and as one of Rex Harrison's co-stars in The Kingfisher;[5] he won a 1979 Drama Desk Award for the last.

In 1980, he appeared as Major General Stanley in the hit Joe Papp adaptation of The Pirates of Penzance, co-starring Kevin Kline and Linda Ronstadt, being nominated for another Tony award. He also starred in the film adaptation of the production, released in 1983. Rose won his second Tony in 1986, for Rupert Holmes' musical adaptation of The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Rose was appearing in a national tour of Drood at the time of his death in 1988.[6] His last film role was Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw, in which he voiced the villain Marvin McNasty (and also sang one of the film's songs).

Personal life and death

Rose owned a pet lynx, birds, and other exotic creatures. He had a music collection numbering around 17,000 records.[1]

In 1984, he purchased a holiday home in Sosúa, Dominican Republic where he spent much of his time between his performances. Rose was homosexual, and had no immediate family or permanent partner. He reportedly longed to have an heir. Shortly after moving, he took in a 14 year old boy whom he supported financially and to whom he planned to leave his estate. He officially adopted the boy in January 1988.[7]

On 5 May 1988, during a two-week hiatus from the national tour of Drood, Rose was tortured and beaten to death by his adopted son, the boy's biological father,[8] an uncle, and a friend of the father. The assailants tried to make the death look like a car accident, but soon confessed.[7] Though all four were charged and spent time in prison, no trial was ever held; and eventually all were released.[1]

Rose is buried in an unmarked grave in a cemetery near his Sosúa home.[1]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result
1970 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical Coco Nominated
1974 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Performance My Fat Friend Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actor Won
1975 Tony Award Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play Nominated
1976 Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical My Fair Lady Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Won
1977 She Loves Me Nominated
1979 Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play The Kingfisher Won
1981 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical The Pirates of Penzance Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical Nominated
1986 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical The Mystery of Edwin Drood Won
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical Won

Stage productions


Year Title Role Notes
1952 The Pickwick Papers Uncredited; film debut
1953 Grand National Night' Plainclothes Detective
The Beggar's Opera First Turnkey
The Square Ring Whitey Johnson
1954 The Good Die Young Bunny
Devil on Horseback Blacksmith
The Sea Shall Not Have Them Tebbitt
1955 The Night My Number Came Up Bennett
Track the Man Down Rick Lambert
John and Julie Wilbury Policeman
1956 Port of Escape Publican
The Long Arm Slob
Reach for the Sky Squadron Leader Edwards Uncredited
Sailor Beware! Waiter at Banfield's
1957 Brothers in Law Mark Frost
The Good Companions Theatre Manager
The Shiralee Donny
No Time for Tears Dobbie
Barnacle Bill Bullen
1958 A Night to Remember Charles Joughin
A Tale of Two Cities Roger Cly Uncredited
Law and Disorder Warden in Charge of Cell Under the Court
Cat & Mouse Second-Hand Clothes Dealer
1959 The Heart of a Man Charlie
Jack the Ripper Clarke
The Devil's Disciple British Sergeant
Jet Storm James Brock
Desert Mice Popados
1960 The Flesh and the Fiends William Burke
1961 No Love for Johnnie Edward Collins
1964 Hamlet First Gravedigger
1966 Hawaii Capt. Janders
1968 The Pink Jungle Capt. Stopes
1969 The Tree Stuey Morgan
1971 A New Leaf Harold
1973 From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Saxonburg
1978 Holocaust Franz Lowy Miniseries
1983 The Pirates of Penzance Major-General Stanley
1988 Pound Puppies and the Legend of Big Paw Marvin McNasty / Sir McNasty Voice; final role


  1. ^ a b c d Kirsta, Alix (25 May 1997). "The Killing of Mr. George". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 7 June 2008.
  2. ^ a b Yarrow, Andrew L. (6 May 1988). "George Rose, 68, Broadway Star And Winner of 2 Tonys, Is Dead; A Versatile Perennial". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 380. ISBN 978-1-84854-195-5.
  4. ^ Hischak, Thomas S. (2001). American Theatre: A Chronicle of Comedy and Drama, 1969-2000. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 128. ISBN 9780195352559. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  5. ^ The Broadway League. "The Kingfisher | IBDB: The official source for Broadway Information". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
  6. ^ "George Rose Biography". filmreference. 2008. Retrieved 7 June 2008.
  7. ^ a b Hevesi, Dennis (13 May 1988). "Dominican Police Say 4 Men Killed George Rose". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  8. ^ Smith, Tim (14 January 2016). "Talent, ignoble end of actor George Rose recalled in new play at Signature Theatre". Retrieved 17 October 2017.